I recently became a Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer – finding out my application was accepted was a wonderful geek-out moment for me. I lap up this Google stuff, and I’ve always gone to bat for Google Apps in an educational setting. So without further ado, here’s the saga of how I became a Google Certified Trainer:
1. Passing the tests – I first passed the six (6) Google Apps tests to become a Google Qualified Individual. Each test focuses on a different aspect of Google Apps – Mail, Calendar, etc – but there was definite crossover in each test. You get 90 minutes for each multiple choice test, and I absolutely used the lion-share of my time in each test as I double and triple-checked answers. You get to choose when you take each test (and in what order) – and the tests aren’t easy. You need to have solid familiarity with Google Apps – not only with Mail, Drive and Calendar – but also on the administrative end and with features like Groups and Moderator. I recommend spending some time at the Training Modules Site to get comfortable.
2. Assessing the application – Passing the six (6) tests awards you Google Qualified Status for a year. Huzzah! But to become a Google Certified Trainer, you must be vetted by Google via an application process. You can see the application here – it consists of an array of essay questions, a case study, a record of your previous workshops/speaking events/etc and user-created videos. I started with the case study (as it seemed to be the “hardest” part of the application) and then moved on to the essay questions and videos.
3. Case study – I think this is the most important piece of the application. Google wishes to see “comprehensive details of a verifiable training or support program for one of your clients, preferably a school or college” (you can see the template here). This includes links to clients, outlines of training sessions, training documents and other learning materials. Obviously, you can’t fake your way through this – you need to have experience leading professional development (lucky for me, this has been my job for the last 3 years!). I focused on my WordPress teacher website training, which included links to self-created PDFs and YouTube videos. I centered my case study around my training style: hands-on, patient and thorough. Click here to check out my submitted case study.
4. Essay Questions – I attacked these next. The questions bounce between general (Why are you interested in becoming a Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer?), professional (Can you demonstrate area expertise in educational technology?) and personal (How do you stay up to date with the latest technology?). I focused on my career as a technology integration specialist, my desire to share knowledge and resources with teachers, students, and the community, and my passion for technology tools (yes, I even mentioned that I own many Apple products as well as a Chromebook). I also showcased my creative side by sharing different videos I’ve created over the years. I highlighted links to my blog and Twitter account to show that I am not merely a consumer of media, but also an active contributor to the community.
5. Videos – Google requested two (2) videos: an introductory video and a training video that explains a key feature/concept in Google Apps. I love video-making (iMovie FTW!), so I was looking forward to creating these. My introductory video was very straight-forward (I wrote a script, filmed with my webcam, and used royalty-free music), and my concept video focused on how Google Docs can help improve the writing process in the classroom. Each video could be 2 minutes max, which I discovered is not much time at all. I had to chop about 1/3 of my introductory video script, and what initially was “6 Ways Google Apps Can Help Improve the Writing Process” became “3 Ways.” Looking back on it, even 3 ways felt kind of rushed…if I had to do it again, I would have done “2 Ways” and explored the Comment and Revision History features further. But obviously I am happy with the results! You have a lot of freedom – some applicants choose to focus on more technical features in their videos, but I focused on curriculum application. True, my video didn’t provide any heavy and technical “how-to” stuff, but I’ve always been more focused on practical classroom application and how technology enhances curriculum. I think my video reflected that philosophy.
6. Submission and acceptance – All told, I think I spent between 25-30 hours on the application (yes, I’m a bit of a perfectionist). I submitted early July and was accepted about five (5) weeks later.
7. What next? – My school district (Lincolnshire-Prairie View SD 103) is a Google District, so being a Certified Trainer allows me access to a professional network and a bevy of resources to help lead my district as we launch Google Apps with the students. I’d love to work with other school districts and business to help launch Google Apps as well, so it will be awesome to be officially listed by Google in their Certified Trainer Directory. I also want to present more at conferences, and being a Google Certified Trainer will provide me with more opportunities to lead workshops and PD sessions. I have a passion for this stuff, and I know this will inspire me to further share resources and knowledge. I’m simply excited to be working with Google, and I can’t wait to begin working with teachers, students, and other members of the community. Cheers.